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European Le Mans Series

Jeannette to Make ELMS Return in JMW Ferrari

Jeannette, Sales to partner up in JMW Ferrari as part of Sales’ Le Mans “ultimate goal”…

Photo: Rick Dole/IMSA

Gunnar Jeannette and Rodrigo Sales will compete in the European Le Mans Series this year, driving a JMW Motorsport Ferrari 488 GTE Evo as a stepping stone to Sales’ ultimate goal of competing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The pair will be joined by young Scottish driver Finlay Hutchison, who has competed largely in European GT3 and GT4 competition in recent years.

The program sees Jeannette and Sales return for another season together after driving an ROWE Racing Audi R8 LMS GT4 in the Michelin Pilot Challenge last year.

Jeannette’s last ELMS program was in 2013, when he drove a Ram Racing Ferrari 458 Italia GT2 with Frankie Montecalvo.

“I’ve known Rodrigo for a couple of years,” Jeannette told Sportscar365. “He’s an avid Porsche collector, and he’s been getting more and more into racing over the last couple of years.

“[Last year] wasn’t a very good program, and it was extremely frustrating, but it’s funny: sometimes you have to go through a bad situation to realize that you get on with somebody pretty well.

“Rodrigo’s ultimate goal is to get to Le Mans and do the big race, so we started looking at what programs and cars would be good for getting him to the stage where he’s ready to do that.

“Honestly, we were firstly looking at the Michelin Le Mans Cup and we tested a couple of different LMP3 cars and were kind of looking at the LMP3 direction.

“Then the JMW opportunity presented itself. Obviously, I’ve raced against JMW enough and I know they run a very good program.

“I don’t want to say it fell in our lap, but it presented itself at exactly the right time, and we’re super excited. It’s going to be a big step for Rodrigo but he’s willing to work hard at it and we’re really looking forward to it.”

Jeannette says an involvement in JMW’s 24H Le Mans program this year is “pretty unlikely”, owing to Bronze-rated Richard Heistand already being nominated in the car, ruling out running Sales as well. 

“Rodrigo and I are looking at options to get to Le Mans for the support series race, the Road to Le Mans,” he added.

“We definitely want to get there and do that, and I think I’m probably going to be doing the Classic Le Mans again this year.”

The pair have other plans for additional European races, including some possible 24H Series outings, but Jeannette admitted the an initial plan of competing in the Hankook 12 Hours of Monza later this month could now be in question.

“Obviously the one biggest possible derailing of all of this is just what happens with the whole coronavirus thing,” he said.

“We’re looking at doing some other races over there in Creventic and this and that.

“We were looking at doing the Monza race, which is in March, but the likelihood of that happening now is getting less and less as more events are getting canceled.”

Jake Kilshaw is a UK-based journalist. He is a graduate of Politics and International Relations.

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